A dad's journey into health

Shaping my future, Now

Do you ever get the feeling that life is just going to fast, that you spend so much time with your head down getting on with things that you forget to occasionally glance to the future.  As I look now, I notice that I am quickly approaching 40 and wondering, am I there, that place I wanted to be when I was 40?  Does that place actually exist? Is it the same place as before or have I changed it?  It must have been real and I must have had an idea, but I think my laid back approach to life may be getting the better of me.  Life does feel like it’s speeding up.

Time is like the water in a fast flowing river, time rushes through but as it passes it reshapes the environment never to be the same again, and as time goes on, the place I wanted to be at has changed also, no massive shifts just changes, one grain at a time.  But those grains add up.

I know that this must happen to most of us, but my worry is, if everyone’s places are always changing and being remapped then how do you make sure the places you wanted to end up in match with the people you share your life with.  I guess you don’t.  Just try and come to terms with the differences and hope that it works out.

I think far too much emphasis is put on HOPE.

Wishing for the best!  I’m not sure that I can get on-board with that any more.  I know that I need to take control of the river and shape the future to what I want now, no more sitting back and seeing what happens I want to be pro-active, then if it goes wrong the fault is mine, mine alone, I don’t want to be in a position where I try and blame my hope for things gone wrong or the actions I didn’t take.

I think I may be suffering with a bit of Friday afternoon paranoia.  It comes over me in waves sometimes as if there is something telling me that life is short so get your arse in gear if you ever want to reach your place.

Keep fighting, I read a great quote this week;

So far you have survived 100% of your toughest days, this too will pass.

Love ya


My Soundtrack

For me music has always been there in the background, but as far as I can remember it’s never been front and centre in my life. I have always loved music and the culture (90s indie kid and for that matter also a rocker and hip-hopper, I like to experiment) but I never thought it defined me, I always focused more on books, games and friends for that.

It’s only recently, whilst revisiting these songs (looking for old favourites to attempt on the guitar) that it has occurred to me that music has always followed me, like a soundtrack in the background elegantly framing my experiences. Without realising it music does define me. It plays out like a map of my life. Each and every song sending me right back to a specific time and location and all the thoughts feelings and experiences of that place, good and bad, light or dark, young and old.

So I am going to create my own album here, a snapshot of me and my life, each song belongs on the album for a reason and has a special memory, they may not be my most favourite songs but they certainly are justified. I am going to limit it to ten tracks as I could literally be here all day.

1. Guns n Roses – Welcome To The Jungle. I think this was my first steps in having my own musical personality, rock on.

2. Iron Maiden – Run To The Hills. This is a nod to my brother and a thanks for introducing me to so much great music, Prince, Stone Roses and many more, far too many to mention.

3. Ice-T – Home Invasion. My first steps into the world of Hip-Hop. So much followed this. A new way of expressing yourself and story telling. Thanks Iceberg.

4. Percy Sledge – When A Man Loves A Woman. This is an acknowledgement of my parents taste in music and I am eternally grateful for them introducing me to Soul and Motown. This was the first soul song I remember loving.

5. The Charlatans – Just When Your Thinking Things Over. This fires me back to sixth form and reminds me of when I started dating my good lady wife.

6. Oasis – Cigarettes And Alcohol. What is there to say, they exploded onto the music landscape encapsulating the feelings of the UK youth at the time. They did for Britain what Nirvana did for the US. They will always be the epitome of Rock And Roll for me.

7. Bob Dylan – Just Like A Woman. Heard this for the first time whilst working in a shop. Fell in love with the voice of Dylan (after previously dismissing it) and how he changes from adoration to hatred in the space of one song.

8. The Pogues – Sally Maclennane. My friends and I playing pool on a Friday night before heading into town for teenage ladishness. Great Days.

9. Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop That Feeling. This is just a great tune that reminds me of all the kids just dancing round together having fun.

10. The Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen In Love. Thus one is easy, simply the best song ever written.

So there it is. I am sure that I will soon be releasing a Vol II.

What would be on your soundtrack?

Stay lucky people, kisses.

Those Damn Barre Chords

So I am about six months into my rise to rock stardom. I just need to get younger by about twenty years, lose 5 stone, grow my hair back and develop some form of musical talent, but other than that I am right on track.

My most recent problem is getting my hands and my head in the right place to tackle them aforementioned ‘damn barre chords’. I get them in theory, it’s just my brain can’t translate them for my hands.

Don’t get me wrong I am definitely getting better at them than I was, just making quite slow progress. I have watched endless YouTube clips on the best way to execute them, and because of these I have developed my own theory on Barre Chords and to my mind the most accurate. It’s called the Enoughseneough model: and the gist is this; shut-up get on with it, it will hurt, and sound bad for a while till you start to get it. If you still can’t do it just practice more. This is my Mantra when learning Barre Chords, it seems to work for me and I think should be adopted by more teachers.

OK maybe not as harsh as that but from what I can see there are no quick fixes, just tweaks to improve technique.

Wow that feels better having a good old rant.

I will get better at guitar, with luck, fingers crossed, and touching wood (but actually touching my head in the comical, time honoured tradition)

Keep trying folks, we could all be on top of the pops next year, that’s still a thing right?

It’s a Me Day

So yea it’s a me day, or more accurately its a Paul Day, the very first of 2018.  I can hear everyone’s intrigue getting giddy.  A Paul Day consists of me taking a days leave from work….there’s more.  It also involves some skulduggery on my part.  I also pretend to go to work so that my family are unaware that I am sneaking back home, to bed, to game and generally laze around (let’s hope that he missus doesn’t read this today).

Today has been pretty good on the whole, I have well, gamed, dozed and watched some awesome.  Managed to watch the most recent Blade Runner, and may I say it was bloody good, if long.  And as I write this, the last hour of my Paul Day, I am watching Electric Dreams, a very Philip. K – Day indeed.

I suppose that I should feel guilty, that I am sneaking but I don’t, I feel a little rebellious and a little bit like I’m owed it.  It’s not a day of excess and luxury it’s a day to rest and re-centre yourself.

I encourage you all to have Me Day or You Day……whatever.  Especially if you have a hectic life.  It give you back a little bit of freedom and the chance to catch up again on the things that I like, the things that make me, me.

I don’t have much of the day left to enjoy soon it will be back to the grind but for now I will just keep on keepin’ on.

What would your Me Day look like

Go on……Treat-yo-self

The Things Kids Say

So I got the idea for this post this morning. My daughter Connie was screaming for the TelloSape he he he, bless her.

This is one of the best things about being a parent, listening to your kids innocently getting things wrong…. and then trying to hide your laughter.

But it’s not just what they say it’s how they say it. There’s nothing like trying to play a game on your phone when your 4 yr old daughter blurts ‘give it ere lad let me show you how to do it’, priceless and patronising all at the same time, and very northern (good girl).

I’m afraid that my son is also developing my “game rage”. For those that don’t know, it’s when you are struggling on a video game and the only thing left to do is scream and take out your frustration on the entire world. I was in the kitchen the other morning and all I heard from the living room was a scream of ‘just jump you stupid Gekko’ I must admit that I did feel a little sense of pride. I knew my boy would love games as much as I do, but also sad as I knew how many hours of his life will be wasted on “quests” and achievements.

I heard my boy James come out with a comment that floored me but it requires a bit of a back story. My eldest daughter (8yrs) loves Full House from the 80’s (no idea I’m as baffled as you) and in it there is a character Jessie, that is obsessed with Elvis. So in the car we were all talking about Elvis and I was regaling them with all my best Elvis facts. Fast forward a few days and we were all getting ready for the day, school, work etc. James was on the loo, and I heard this; ‘Connie, Stop hitting me, Elvis died on the toilet!!!’ I couldn’t breath for laughing, sometimes parenting really is a joy.

Sending love.

Until next time…..

Becoming a Graduate

Recently I graduated university with a 2:1 BA Hons in Youth Work, Social Pedagogy and Community Learning and Development. Try saying that when your drunk, I did try but failed miserably. I was fortunate enough to graduate at the amazing Canterbury Cathedral.

Although it was a 4 hour drive away (which actually took closer to 7, damn London traffic) it was certainly worth it.

My wife and I stayed in the hotel on the grounds and they couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating. Canterbury itself was lovely, like a larger version of the Shambles in York (picture something like Diagon Ally (can’t believe I just made a Harry Potter reference)).

I studied with YMCA George Williamson College as a distance learner up north. And the degree was under written by Canterbury Christ Church University.

I knew that I had already got a 2:1 before the day, as you do, therefore I was so surprised just how emotional I was. It suddenly dawned on me what a huge deal this was. I have talked before about my pride of being the only member of my family to ever go to Uni. But this felt more, an actual life achievement, the likes of which I have never felt. I was suddenly desperate for my loved ones to go through it so they could feel the same and although I would never force it on them I will support my children 100% should they want to do it.

I guess it feels a little weird being a “mature” student. I really was not into education when I was younger. But I loved it and the staff and moreover the tutors at the YMCA GWC were absolutely amazing and supportive. Now I am on the lookout for my next opportunity, I am sure that I will tell you guys about it.

Good luck everyone in everything and never let insecurity, fear or doubt stop you trying to be better.

Until next time………

Blogging Resolutions

With lent nearly upon us, I am taking the opportunity to combine two of my recent blog-urges, to try posting on the go using the app and to simply blog more.

I am setting myself a target of at least once a week for a more lengthy blog and once for an app post (so twice a week then, I can hear you all say).

Blogging is important to me but like most things in my life at the minute (like playing the guitar, reading or woodwork) it will happen only when I get round to it. Work takes up a lot of my time and the remainder seems to be taken up with, tidying the house washing up or stopping the kids killing each other.

So this is it the first ‘app blog’ and I have to say, like the legend before me Louis Walsh (in a cheesy Irish accent) “I like it”. It isn’t as difficult to write on as I imagined it would be (although please ignore any predictive text blunders) and I must admit there’s a lot less faffing around using images than on the laptop. I am sure that this will help me blog more, sorry Facebook and Twitter, but if I can blog on the go I am sure that my use of these apps will take a hit.

So on the whole I’m impressed, I have yet to try other features but I will get round to it as time goes on.

Stay lucky people and I will see you soon.


Getting to grips with the Guitar

New Year, New Beginnings……well sort of.  I have been attempting to learn the guitar now for a few months and I am loving it.   I have a naughty little acoustic called Lucy and a very bog-standard Encore electric guitar that I can’t bring myself to name.

So with Christmas looming I asked everyone for money so that I can treat myself to a new electric, as I have almost exclusively been playing Lucy but now feel that it’s time to start becoming a world famous guitarist, can’t see it being too tough.

I looked at the best budget guitars focusing on price, looks sound and play-ability and I came up with a few options, but by far the sexiest (As I love the Gibson Les Paul look) was the Epiphone Les Paul Special II, behold:


I am now in love and thinking of an appropriate name (answers on a postcard).  It’s surprising just how heavy it was when I first tried it but when you see the store owner playing it like Hendrix it’s difficult not to fall in love.

So a few weeks in and I am up to my eyeballs in songs to learn (cover image, a typical Sunday morning for me) and I am all over YouTube looking for Blues licks to learn.  I can’t wait to show my guitar teacher and hoping he approves of the purchase.

I hope that all you guys out there are having the opportunity to develop yourselves and have things to strive for, it’s hard at the time but when you get it right you have massive internal Hi-5’s or Big-10’s if its a particularly big achievement.  It really is good for the soul.

So if , on the telly, you see a slightly rotund middle aged dude with that sexy guitar playing sketchy versions of Wonderwall you will know that I have made it.

Next time people, and another resolution is to blog more.  See you soon and many kisses sent your way.

Scoring Man Points

Recently I have felt the need to get creative, to make things, and being the Blokey-bloke that I am, I decided that a return to the good old Woodwork was needed.  A quick look around confirmed that the first challenge of any amateur woodworker was to make his own workbench (lovingly being strength tested by the three munchkins in the feature image).

DSC_1168I had to make plans, draw pictures and get to work.  The first task was to work out the height and being a Munchkin myself I opted for a modest 34″.  If you want to get a general idea just have a quick Google but DON’T look into it too closely you will never be able to look away, there are whole books dedicated to this subject (I know..who has that kind of time to spare).  Then I designed the bench, the design was later to change as I felt there would be some weak points.  Mapped out what was needed off I  went to get the timbered up.  Thanks to some family kindness I was able to get a discount too, cheers bud.

I have found that the most difficult thing about building a bench is……having children.DSC_1321  The most challenging thing was just getting the time to spend in the workshop.  Therefore this build took place over three sessions, firstly was the basic structure, (boring stuff) I decided to plumb for 12mm ply as opposed to the suggested 18mm as I wanted to keep the weight down as I wanted this to be light and mobile.  I had everything cut to size for the basic structure so that it was basically a flat pack build.

For a long time I have admired people that can make things with their own hands and I felt that this should be me, I guess I also want the kids to see me do stuff like this, to show them that it can be done and they don’t needs to be slaves to consumerism.  Added to this, I don’t want to lose (or rather really want to pass on) the ethos I was bought up with, the ‘make do and mend’ mentality and skills my parents were so proud of, which I suppose came from their parents living through the war and having no other option.

DSC_1325I digress, then I built the frame made out of 3″x2″.  Again this is quite heavy but very sturdy.  On the final build I did try to time laps our progress, (I say our, as I had help from my best bud, partner in crime and other laddish cliches) however who knew that it takes the power of three suns to power it and phone duly died.

As I said this was pretty much a flat pack so I was able to match the frame to the top exactly.  It went swiftly and the progress we made was very DSC_1347impressive.  Once completed the frame we turned it over and attached the 4″ casters, therefore our frame was 30″ in height.  Then all that was left was to sink in the bottom shelf and attach the top.  This had a nice dark wood look to it with, may I say, a lovely grain.  I then added a simple pine trim round the edge for a sleek finish.

All that was left was to adorn my achievement with the necessary tools and ablutions that all men (and woodworkie ladies) should possess.  I have tried my hand already at making candle holders and a guitar stand that needs attention as the guitar just falls off,  oops.

To get started I had a few tools already, I know a lot of people are buying up budget tools from places like Aldi and Lidl, but I decided to buy decent second hand tools and hopefully get a good machine that will perform as opposed to an okay machine that struggles a bit.  That’s just my thoughts though.

So if your thinking of having a go at a bit of the old woodwork, do it, it is fun relatively cheap and you get a huge sense of accomplishment from producing something, who knows it could be the start of a life long love or even career.

Much love to you, toodles.


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